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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
March 2006 PaNPa bUlletiN | 55 hiStory at Armidale on December 1, 1855, a public meeting was held to consider the best way to establish a local paper for the New England district. A com- mittee was formed to collect do- nations for the establishment of a newspaper, to receive the names of subscribers and to control the ex- penditure of the money collected (about $180 in today's currency). Two employees of the Maitland Mercury, William Hipgrave and Walter Craigie, accepted the chal- lenge of the New Englanders and established the Express. The first issue of the Armidale Express ap- peared on April 5, 1856. Craigie had worked for Henry Parkes, and the press formerly printed the first copy of Parkes's Empire in Decem- ber 1850. In his introductory leader, Express editor Craigie wrote: "We have found the establishment of a newspaper at Armidale connected with so many, almost insuperable difficulties, that we have no doubt our readers will make every allow- ance for any trifling inaccuracies or slight deficiencies in our first number." Subscribers jumped from 180 to 464 by the end of the first quarter and to 650 by the close of the first year. The first issue of the Express had carried news of the nomina- tions for the united districts of New England and McLeay for the new Lower House. The second issue carried an editorial on the candi- dates, one of whom the Express was supporting. Despite a declara- tion of independence in their in- troductory editorial, Hipgrave and Craigie supported the liberals from the outset and were anti-squat- ter. This created problems when the sitting member for New Eng- land and McLeay, the squatter T.G. Rusden, was defeated at the June 1858 election. Rusden blamed the campaign waged against him by the Express and immediately af- terwards he offered Craigie £1,000 ($2,000) to establish a rival news- paper to support the squatting interest. Brendan O'Keefe said 'the political pressure on the two pro- prietors, together with Craigie¹s absence from Armidale [to defend himself], forced them to sell the newspaper in late 1858'. Owen Gorman, a storekeeper, auction- eer, retired army officer, surveyor, and a Roman Catholic, bought the Express on 1 December 1858, allowing Craigie and Hipgrave to continue as employees and the pa- per to continue as a liberal organ. On October 18 Gorman sold the paper to its original owners who entered into a new partnership the same day. The first competitor Five years later Hipgrave and Craigie of- fered the Express for sale by tender, but nobody offered them enough and so they renewed their partner- ship even as a rival newspaper, the Armidale Telegraph, established to represent the squatting interest, was planned. In 1865, the Armidale Telegraph became an alternative political voice to the "mendacious and one-sided" Armidale Express, which had opposed the squatters at each election since its establish- ment. The squatter candidate of January 1865, Theophilus Cooper and his supporters, instigated the establishment of the Telegraph, to be run by Frank Newton of the Grafton Herald. There were unexpected delays, and Newton was not able to close his nine-month-old paper until January 1865. He shifted his press and plant to Armidale where he launched the Telegraph on March 4, after Cooper had contested and won the Armidale seat. This scotched the belief that any candi- date whom the Armidale Express opposed could not win an election. Within a year the Telegraph found that the great struggle over land ownership that had inspired its foundation was virtually resolved. The Telegraph battled on and closed on June 29, 1872. Newton headed for Inverell and launched the Inverell Dispatch on February 8, 1873. The original Craigie-Hip- grave partnership at the Express was broken when Hipgrave died on January 22, 1873. Hipgrave died in late June 1879 - it appears he was struck by a falling branch. Elizabeth Craigie became senior partner in the firm upon the death of her husband. She died, on April 17, 1900, and the Express said: "Through her death no alteration will be made in the management of the paper, although the last of the four founders of it has gone to rest, full of years and honours..." The Express was always cautious about increasing publication fre- quency. It remained a weekly until August 7, 1883, when it began ap- pearing twice a week, even though it had been issuing what it called an "intermediate sheet" (a Clayton's second edition) since 1874. Som- merlad arrived and change came for the Armidale Express in 1929 when the New England newspa- per entrepreneur, Ernest Christian Sommerlad, engineered the third of his amalgamations of newspa- pers in district towns: Glen Innes (1924), Inverell (1927), and Armi- dale (1929). In Sommerlad¹s view, a second paper in a town constituted head to head in armidale Staff of the Armidale Independent (NSw), which is 10 years old in October. l-r Standing: brett varcoe (general Magager), liz robertson (accounts Manager), trudi Singh (receptionist), Seren trump (Journalist), ashleigh constance (accounts Manager), alex dunn (editor) kneeling: libby Miller and Steve black (both Production) It’s the classic question: can age and experience win out over youth and enthusiasm? rod Kirkpatrick looks at the continuing battle for the hearts of the readers of armidale.